Ken and Mary Witt of Carlisle are recovering from serious injuries after a runaway tire struck their car on I-81 in Cumberland County.
Police believe the tire came off of a tractor trailer traveling south on 81 near Middlesex Exit 52 around 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. Officials say the tire crossed the median and struck the Witt’s car. The impact knocked the driver, Ken Witt, unconscious. Police say the Witt’s car then struck several vehicles on the highway before it left the road and crashed through two fences, hitting several cars in the Old Dominion Parking Lot. The Witts were flown to the hospital with serious injuries.
“We are not sure if the driver was aware that the wheels came off at that moment in time, but by now he should be fully aware and if he would respond then we would be able to work with him and figure this out,” said Trooper Ed Asbury, Pennsylvania State Police.
The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association says this type of thing is very rare.
“When it does occur, it is the result of a hub or bearing failure. It is not something that is easy to predict. It is something carriers look at as a part of their routine maintenance but it is a rare occurrence when that happens,” said Kevin Stewart, Director of Safety, PMTA.
A similar accident happened in York County in 2003. A person was killed on I-83 near the Mount Rose Avenue Exit when their car was struck by tires that came off a tractor trailer.
“In this case we were very lucky that the operator was able to survive that impact,” said Asbury.
Police are treating this as a hit and run.